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Cosmetic Dentistry

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Are you curious about how your dentist might use cosmetic dentistry techniques such as bonding, porcelain veneers, dental crowns and teeth whitening treatments to make changes with your smile?

If you are, take a look at our 'Cosmetic Dentistry on a Shoe-String Budget' before-and-after makeover simulations. These are actual photographs people have sent in that we've retouched to show the types of changes that their dentist, using just basic dental procedures, should be able to make for them.

(FYI: Here's what we try to simulate when we create a makeover.)

What techniques do we illustrate?

Here's an overview, as well as some points of comparison, of the types of cosmetic dental work we illustrate in our makeover simulations. These are common dental procedures that any general dentist, not just a "cosmetic dentist," can most likely provide.

Porcelain veneers.  /  Lumineers®.

A porcelain veneer is a thin shell of porcelain that is bonded onto the front surface of a tooth to improve its appearance. These veneers can be an excellent way to make a cosmetic change for a tooth. As compared to dental bonding, they usually look more natural and resist staining better.

As a disadvantage, porcelain veneers are usually more expensive and, if used in the wrong application, can be prone to breaking. Unlike dental bonding, if a porcelain veneer does break, typically the whole veneer must be replaced. They usually cannot be patched or repaired.

Dental crowns.

Dental crowns can be used to make the same type of cosmetic changes for teeth that porcelain veneers can. However, unlike veneers which only cover over the front side of teeth, crowns cup over and encase the entire tooth.

In comparison to porcelain veneers, dental crowns are stronger and more durable. But because making a crown involves trimming away a significant amount of tooth structure, they usually aren't the best choice for making a cosmetic change unless the tooth also requires the non-cosmetic benefits that a crown can provide. Like porcelain veneers, there is typically a fair amount of cost involved when dental crowns are placed.

Dental bonding.

The term "dental bonding" can refer to a number of different, yet related, dental techniques. In general, after a tooth's surface has been properly prepared, dental bonding can refer to any process where a dentist attaches white-colored dental filling material to a tooth.

Dental bonding might be used to improve the appearance of an isolated defect on the surface of a tooth, to replace tooth structure that has chipped or broken off, or to repair damage caused by tooth decay. This technique can also be used to resurface the entire front side of a tooth, strictly for cosmetic purposes.

When compared with other cosmetic procedures, dental bonding can be relatively inexpensive. And placing it is completed in a single visit. One disadvantage of dental bonding is that it has a tendency to stain over time and, in general, isn't as lasting or durable as other types of restorations. However, if dental bonding does chip or break it can usually be easily patched or repaired.

Teeth whitening.

Using a teeth-whitening process can be one of the simplest and least expensive ways to make a substantial cosmetic improvement with a person's smile. There are a number of different whitening techniques that might be employed, including:

While most tooth-whitening techniques can usually be counted on to produce at least some color change for a person's natural teeth, they will not (with a few exceptions) produce a lightening effect for existing dental work. Additionally, any tooth whitening that is achieved will have a tendency to fade over time.

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